Trigger up: Dear dude-bros** of the world:

06/15/2011

Hey reader! This rant is potentially triggering for frank and frustrated discussion of rape culture and trauma. Please take care of yourself! XO, RD

Ps. gratefully I somehow avoided encountering that which lies below for quite a while since moving in with a bunch of other rad queer feminists. separatism, what? wheee!

There are two categories of rape jokes in the world, and they’re both pretty fucking insensitive and prickly. The category of rape joke I can tolerate, nay, even sometimes make (in a fit of bitter sarcasm) is the nuanced kind. The unnuanced kind, where you joke about rape like it’s a mythical beast that you and no one you know will ever meet, a dour invention of some feminist with their trousers on backwards–that kind? Well, it makes me want to hit you in the face, honestly, although I generally refrain.

Nuanced rape jokes at least acknowledge the bitter pill that is: the fact that as survivors we are forced to live in, confront, sometimes even pretend to be pals with, a world that is rife with rape culture and trauma. Rape jokes with nuance acknowledge any one or many of the following: sexual assault/community response to sexual assault can be deeply traumatizing, sexual assault is really pervasive, sexual assault can happen to anyone, no one ever deserves to be raped, sexual violence and talking about sexual violence are deeply stigmatized, rape is sex without consent (i.e. unconsciousness/severe intoxication do not equal consent), etc. Insert queasy depressed chuckles here because it’s more socially acceptable to laugh together than to cry together (sigh).

A rape joke is never sensitive (seriously, don’t even try me on this one), but the most insensitive of all treat rape either as a Gorgon or a thing that would never happen to “Us”. “Us” is also a mythical beast, but “Us” is formed out of a clay made of your privilege, and molded to the needs of the wearer at any given moment, may also go as “We”. Guess what? Rape happens to people you know. It may have happened to you. It may have happened to the people closest to you, and if they haven’t told you, it may be because: they don’t trust you (or don’t trust you enough), they can’t acknowledge what happened to them, or because you raped them. That’s right, I just called you a rapist. Potentially.

For a long time I’ve struggled with how to deal with rape jokes in sensitive situations, places where I feel my social standing would be damaged if I spoke up. Many times I have left a social gathering or a social group because of the pervasive misogyny apparent in the dominant members of that community. But when you come into my home, to my party, and you make a rape joke without acknowledging that you are standing next to a survivor, sharing social space with people who might be survivors, that you have any history with confronting sexual violence at all, and you just treat rape like it’s hilarious and gosh, isn’t your sense of humor daring! I am going to start asking you to stop. I don’t care how awkward it is, how the room swirls around us as all other conversations halt, I don’t even care if I get a reputation for being no fun, a bitchy feminist, or too sensitive. My home is meant to be safe space for everyone, and I expect you to respect other people and their experiences within it.

And if you can’t? Don’t come.

**Dude-bro: often a male-identified person who is utterly and completely heteronormative, perfectly masculine, usually white, able-bodied, and middle-class, completely unaware of their own privilege and often misogynist, either overtly or inadvertently.

Love and…oh fuck it. I am so tired of the dude-bros of the world.

-RD

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